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Wednesday 22 October  

Sierra Leone wraps up campaign ahead of general election

Published on 15 November 2012 - 11:58pm
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Hundreds of opposition supporters gathered in Freetown on Thursday for a final rally as the country wraps up a campaign for this weekend's elections which is seen as a key test of its post-war recovery.

Wearing party colours of green and white, supporters of ex-military leader Julius Maada Bio from the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) weaved through the streets blaring vuvuzelas from the backs of motorcycles, on foot or in overloaded cars.

Bio is the main adversary to President Ernest Koroma who is seeking a second term in office after his All People's Congress (APC) ousted the SLPP at the polls in 2007.

A decade after the end of a brutal 11-year war, Koroma is credited with ushering in investment, overseeing a construction boom, road resurfacing and improving electricity.

However his detractors say life in the mineral-rich, but deeply poor nation, has not improved for many.

"The majority of the people in this country are suffering," said Mohamed Jango, 43, who works in an advertising agency.

"It's not only roads that we are going to eat in the country ... not everyone is going to gain from electricity or roads, not everyone has vehicles."

Ibrahima Ba, 28, said the improvements under Koroma were "just cosmetic things ... to get food for a day is a burden for us."

Rather, he and other SLPP supporters praise Bio, 48 as the country's "father of democracy" for leading a peaceful transition to democratic power during a brief stint at the head of a military junta in 1996.

In the football-mad nation, opposition supporters held up red cards indicating it was time for Koroma to get off the field, saying Bio was "the coach come to coach Sierra Leone politics".

Meanwhile, government communications director Unisa Sesay told AFP that through its infrastructure drive and investments, the state was "creating the environment for people to earn their living".

"Resources have increased significantly in this country -- they are going to increase even more with oil and gas coming," he said, adding that these additional funds would enable government to "finish its projects".

Some 2.6 million people have registered to vote in the presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Saturday.

  • Ex-military leader Julius Maada Bio (C) from the Sierra Leone People's Party ...
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